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Man sentenced to year in prison on drug count

Ten arrested, seven more sought in drug, firearms sweep

A long-term investigation has resulted in the arrest of 10 individuals in the Southside Virginia region on approximately 31 drug and firearm charges.

Victim identified in July 6 death in La Crosse

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has identified Jessica Stroud, 35, of Waynesboro as the victim in a July 6 death in La Crosse that police describe as suspicious.

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Local lawyers, judge seek openings on bench

SoVaNow.com / February 07, 2019
Lawmakers in Richmond will begin this week to consider candidates for vacant judgeships in the area, with three and possibly four open seats on the bench to fill.

Three local lawyers in private practice and current Halifax County General District Judge William Watson have approached members of the General Assembly about appointments in the 10th Judicial Circuit, which includes Halifax County.

Watson and private attorneys Michael Freshour, Lisa Francisco and Brendan U. Dunning have each asked to be considered for openings that include a Circuit Court judgeship with the retirement last year of Leslie Osborn, who served as circuit judge for Mecklenburg and Lunenburg counties and Chief Judge of the 10th Circuit. Watson, general district judge in Halifax County, is seeking to move up to circuit court with Osborn’s departure.

Two other vacancies have materialized at the general district court level with the announced retirements of Mecklenburg General District Judge Charles Warren and a second judge in the northern part of the 10th Circuit. If Watson is tapped for circuit court, the number of vacancies for general district court will rise to three.

In addition to the four candidates from Halifax County, three other area attorneys — Cal Spencer of Lunenburg, Jody Holyst Fariss of Prince Edward, and Appomattox County Commonwealth’s Attorney Darrel Puckett — have each asked to be considered for bench appointments. Aside from Watson, the candidates have indicated they are open to serving either at the circuit court or general district court level.

“As of right now, we’ve had a lot of folks come forward and throw their names in the hat,” said Del. James Edmunds, who said he has spoken to each of the candidates about the positions.

The 10th Judicial Circuit spans an eight-county area from Halifax and Mecklenburg in the south to Buckingham and Cumberland to the north.

Lawmakers in Southside and central Virginia were slated to meet last night in Richmond to discuss the candidates and decide which of them should advance to the next step, which would be interviews before the Courts of Justice committees in the House and Senate. Members of the courts committees will interview candidates Friday at the General Assembly, Edmunds said.

To have their candidacies considered by the full House and Senate, the contenders must gain the recommendations of the courts committees before moving on to votes on the floor.

Watson has served as Halifax’s general district judge since 2009. The other contenders include a current commonwealth’s attorney, Puckett, and past holder of the office, Freshour, who served one term as Halifax County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The field contains two women — Francisco, who practices out of her Halifax office and is a former assistant commonwealth’s attorney and regional drug prosecutor, and Holyst Fariss, who has maintained a practice in Prince Edward County for more than two decades.

Spencer manages the Lunenburg law office of Harris, Matthews and Crowder, a South Hill-based firm, and is a past town attorney for the Town of Kenbridge. Dunning has practiced both in South Hill and Halifax and has a background as a prosecutor in Mecklenburg County.

The General Assembly is expected to make its choices to fill the openings before the legislature convenes later this month, as currently scheduled.



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